Friday, April 18, 2014

Another engagement in the gas price war goes as predicted


It's prediction checking time again.  In Another advance in the gas price war, I described the latest action in progress in the local gas price war.
Monday, the corner station charged into No Man's Land, shooting its price up to $3.89, which meant that the price for the next grade up was $4.04.  Egads, $4 gas again!  Meanwhile the stations down the street were still at $3.60.  Tuesday evening, they had all raised their prices for regular to $3.65, while the corner station had dropped what they were charging for regular to $3.79.  My prediction that the neighborhood price would go up to $3.64-$3.69 has come true.  Now all that's left is for the corner station to match the other three, something that should happen by Thursday.
That's exactly what happened.  Thursday night, I drove past all four stations.  The three down the street were still at $3.65 and the corner station had joined them.  Success!

How about the next prediction?
The next question becomes what is GasBuddy indicating for the trend?  The national average has continued up slowly and is now between $3.61 and $3.62.  The Detroit average bounced up on Monday to $3.75 and is now between $3.76 and $3.77.  Even if the latter price ends up being the peak for the week, so long as the slow decline that would follow keeps the price above $3.75, the neighborhood stations will still be underpriced and I would expect the next jump would be to $3.69.  That could happen this weekend to take advantage of Easter weekend travel, but I would think it more likely early next week.  Stay tuned.
The national average is still creeping up and is now between $3.62 and $3.63.  Meanwhile, the Detroit average has dropped below $3.75.  The neighborhood stations are no longer underpriced, so I no longer think they'll raise prices before the Easter weekend.  The earliest move should be early next week.  Based on the national average continuing its steady rise, I still think $3.69 is in the cards.  A price rise higher than that shouldn't be, as crude oil has been bouncing around while moving mostly sideways the past few days, as Reuters reports Brent oil falls as Ukraine, Russia seek to end violence.
Brent crude for June delivery, which has received support in recent days as violence in Ukraine escalated, settled down 7 cents at $109.53 a barrel, after earlier hitting a high of $110.19 ahead of the joint statement.
...
U.S. prices found support from strong U.S. employment data, which showed new applications for unemployment benefits close to a 6-1/2-year low, the latest sign the economy of the world's largest oil consumer is gaining momentum.

U.S. oil for delivery in May settled up 54 cents at $104.30 a barrel, after earlier hitting a high of $104.78 a barrel. The contract had touched a six-week high of $104.99 in the previous session, though a report showing a large build in stockpiles weighed on sentiment on Wednesday.
So crude oil is stalling out.  So far, RBOB gasoline isn't, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
Gasoline supplies fell slightly last week to 210.3 million barrels, the lowest level since November, the EIA said. Stocks are "lower than they ought to be for this time of year," ahead of the summer-driving season, Mr. Lebow said.

Front-month May reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, rose 1.42 cents, or 0.5%, to $3.0547 a gallon, the highest price since Aug. 29, 2012. Prices are up 1.3% for the week.
Based on that wholesale price, gas won't stop at $3.69 after next week, no matter what crude oil does.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What The Archdruid ignored in 'Mentats wanted'


In The Archdruid and I talk real estate, I mentioned that I commented about more than just real estate and would talk about it later.
Greer and I got into a side conversation in the comments to Mentats Wanted, Will Train--real estate.  Even though I had plenty of things to say about the main topic, that's what he responded to.
...
I'll get back to the rest of the conversation...later.
As I type this, I'm waiting for the comment about the death of Michael Ruppert I left at Greer's most recent entry, The End of Employment, to make it through moderation.  Waiting is reminding me of the points I made that weren't addressed two weeks ago, so I feel now is an appropriate time to post them.  Follow over the jump.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A review of entries about 'An Inconvenient Truth'


I'm in between showings of "An Inconvenient Truth" this week, the worksheets for which I included in Showing "An Inconvenient Truth" to my students again a year ago, the feature entry in Student worksheets for the second and third year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  That may be the most popular entry about the film on my blog, but it's not the only one.  In fact, the day before I posted I'm hosting an Earth Week event today which previewed the movie.

In August, I posted two entries about the film either the week I showed it or the week before.  The first was Hot (not): a cold blast from the past, which explored the causes of the thousand-year reversal of the end of the last glaciation.  That plays a major role in the movie, with Gore favoring the flooding of the North Atlantic with glacial meltwater, while the latest hypothesis positing a comet impact on the ice sheet.  The two are not mutually exclusive, as the impact could have released the meltwater, but they are competing explanations for the event.  The second was Hot: Three topics from 'An Inconvenient Truth' in the news.  The three topics addressed these three questions.
1. What evidence first convinced Al Gore about the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming?
...
4. Explain how the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons fit with predictions based on global warming.
...
7. What will happen to global sea levels if either the Greenland ice cap or the West Antarctic ice cap melts?
Eight years later, the film is still relevant.

In December, I posted Climate news while I'm showing 'An Inconvenient Truth'.  It was just a compendium of climate stories, but it contained the answer to "What evidence first convinced Al Gore about the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming?"  The answer was the carbon dioxide data collected by Roger Revelle.  At least one person searched for this answer in December.  Should anyone else search again, they can now find it.  That entry prompted My sister suggesting I show 'A Convenient Truth' to my students.  I liked that suggestion.
That's not a bad idea.  "End of Suburbia" is a downer and getting dated.  I might just replace it with something optimistic about a greener future for cities.  After all, I am a Crazy Eddie.
As you can see, these entries come in pairs.  While I'm waiting for a response from a reader or for something else to inspire me to post a follow up, I present the Oscar winner for Best Original Song from the movie, Melissa Etheridge - I Need To Wake Up.

Another advance in the gas price war


It's time to check the prediction I made in and repeated in Corner station retreats as predicted in gas price war.
How confident am I in the next prediction?
While the corner station is likely to lower its price to match its nearest competitors, their price is not likely to go down more than a penny over the next seven to ten days.  $3.59 is no longer a ceiling; it's a floor.  I wouldn't be surprised if prices went up to between $3.64 and $3.69 by the end of next week.
Very.

Gas Buddy shows the national average has continued its rise from $3.58 Wednesday to between $3.59 and $3.60 today.  Detroit's average, on the other hand, has gone down slightly from $3.73 Tuesday and Wednesday to between $3.72 and $3.71 today.  It's performing just as I thought it would earlier this week, when I wrote "Based on the usual seasonal pattern, which has held very well over the past two months, it should decline slightly before going up again."  I'd say that the past two days price pattern is doing precisely that.  As for the local stations, their price is still more than a dime below the metro area mean, and is therefore underpriced based on historical patterns.  The metro average will have to drop below $3.70 to make them priced correctly.  Until that happens, I expect the price to go up next week.
Monday, the corner station charged into No Man's Land, shooting its price up to $3.89, which meant that the price for the next grade up was $4.04.  Egads, $4 gas again!  Meanwhile the stations down the street were still at $3.60.  Tuesday evening, they had all raised their prices for regular to $3.65, while the corner station had dropped what they were charging for regular to $3.79.  My prediction that the neighborhood price would go up to $3.64-$3.69 has come true.  Now all that's left is for the corner station to match the other three, something that should happen by Thursday.

The next question becomes what is GasBuddy indicating for the trend?  The national average has continued up slowly and is now between $3.61 and $3.62.  The Detroit average bounced up on Monday to $3.75 and is now between $3.76 and $3.77.  Even if the latter price ends up being the peak for the week, so long as the slow decline that would follow keeps the price above $3.75, the neighborhood stations will still be underpriced and I would expect the next jump would be to $3.69.  That could happen this weekend to take advantage of Easter weekend travel, but I would think it more likely early next week.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Examiner.com article on Detroit's record total snowfall

Workers clear snow from a sidewalk along Woodward Avenue through several inches of snow as the area deals with record breaking freezing weather January 6, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.
Joshua Lott--Getty Images
In Lunar eclipse not visible in Michigan tonight, I gave my reasons for wishing for a lot of snow.
The next question becomes "will there be enough snow to break the record for Detroit?"  The answer is maybe.  The latest prediction from NOAA states "Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible."  Only 1.9 inches is needed to set a new record for snowfall for the season, and that's right in the middle of the range.  Honestly, I'm rooting for that to happen.  First, it means that I won't feel like I should be wearing a T-shirt that reads "I survived this terrible winter and all I got was second place."  Second, it also means that I'll be inspired to write another article for Examiner.com.  The ones that I wrote about snowfall records got a lot of page views and Facebook likes.  That was good for both my pocketbook and my ego.  Finally, it will make going from spring back to winter, if only for a few days, worth it.
I got my wish and I was able to pound out another article for Examiner.com in 2 hours.

2013-2014 snowiest winter in Detroit history
This morning, the National Weather Service office in Detroit made it official.  This has been the snowiest winter in Detroit history.

As of 6:00 A.M., 3.1 inches of snow had fallen overnight, raising the total for the season to 94.8 inches.  Only 1.9 inches had been required to break the previous record of 93.6 inches set in 1880-1881.

This record joins three others for the Motor City set this season, the snowiest January, snowiest month, and longest snow cover, which is now 78 days.
...
After witnessing records like these, Detroiters can proudly say, "We survived the winter of 2013-2014."
Now to sweep off my car and drive to work.

Lunar eclipse not visible in Michigan tonight


The lunar eclipse happening tonight that was mentioned in Ocean on Enceladus, opposition of Mars, and other space and astronomy stories for the week of April Fools will not be visible here.  Instead, it's snowing.  The Weather Channel brings the bad news in Will You See the Lunar Eclipse?

Meteorologist Jonathan Erdman discusses who will be able to see the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse.
So no "Blood Moon" tonight.  The next question becomes "will there be enough snow to break the record for Detroit?"  The answer is maybe.  The latest prediction from NOAA states "Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible."  Only 1.9 inches is needed to set a new record for snowfall for the season, and that's right in the middle of the range.  Honestly, I'm rooting for that to happen.  First, it means that I won't feel like I should be wearing a T-shirt that reads "I survived this terrible winter and all I got was second place."  Second, it also means that I'll be inspired to write another article for Examiner.com.  The ones that I wrote about snowfall records got a lot of page views and Facebook likes.  That was good for both my pocketbook and my ego.  Finally, it will make going from spring back to winter, if only for a few days, worth it.  It was so warm Sunday that I worked in the yard in my shorts.  Of course, I should be used to wild weather like this.  Welcome to Michigan!  If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes.  It will change.  If you do like the weather, too bad; it will still change.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Identity theft warning for last-minute tax filers


Tax Day is tomorrow, which means it's time for me to pull the following articles out of my archives.  It may be too late for all of us who filed early, but the last-minute filers can still benefit from it.

The University of Georgia warned in February that Identity thieves may wait to use stolen data during tax season.
Athens, Ga. - Identity thieves may take advantage of tax season by filing false tax returns with their victims' stolen personal information, warns a data security proponent at the University of Georgia.

"During tax season, identity thieves are quick to file returns and get refunds from the government that will cause a legitimate taxpayer's refund to be denied as a duplicate return," said Laura Heilman, a security awareness training and education manager at UGA's Enterprise Information Technology Services office. "The legitimate taxpayer then takes on the burden of proving they are who they say they are and an identity thief was the fraudulent filer."

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, fraudulent tax refunds claims associated with identity theft reached $12.1 billion in 2012. Tax-related identity theft and fraud is expected to reach an all-time high as people begin to file their tax returns for 2013.
The same week, the University of Alabama explained how to defend against this threat in UA Matters: Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft.
Identity theft is the most prevalent white collar crime in the United States today. The University of Alabama’s Caroline Fulmer helps consumers understand how it occurs, the steps that can be taken to minimize the chances of being a victim and where to get help if they are a victim.

The most common ways identity theft occurs are when your wallet or purse is stolen; records are stolen from inside your home or from your mailbox; you willingly share information with a person who turns out to be a scam artist; using unsecure websites; or your information is stolen from a business.
The next month, Texas A&M chimed in with AgriLife Extension expert: Consumers can increase vigilance on identity theft.
FTC report shows U.S. consumers lost $1.6 billion-plus to fraud in 2013

COLLEGE STATION – Identity theft continues to top the list of consumer complaints, according to a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission.

The report noted that American consumers lost over $1.6 billion to fraud in 2013, based on more than  2 million complaints reported in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2013. Of these complaints, 14 percent were identity theft-related.

Complaints against debt collectors, banks and lenders, imposter scams, and telephone and mobile services rounded out the report’s top five consumer complaint categories.
Stay safe against this 21st Century crime.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Late Night for Apophis Day


I promised to celebrate Apophis Day in Space News for the second and third year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, a promise I repeated in The Archdruid and I talk real estate.  I'm following through by posting clips of Neil DeGrasse Tyson's appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers to promote Cosmos.  Since Cosmos is on tonight, that's an added bonus for my Sunday night entertainment-themed entry about one of my usual topics.

First, Myer's interview of Dr. Tyson.

Cosmos, comic books and alternate universes with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Next, a sketch with Planet Pluto upset about being demoted.

Former planet Pluto confronts Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Happy Apophis Day to all, even Pluto!

The Archdruid and I talk real estate


Greer and I got into a side conversation in the comments to Mentats Wanted, Will Train--real estate.  Even though I had plenty of things to say about the main topic, that's what he responded to.  It began with the final remark of his that I included in my first response.
Greer: When all the people you know are rushing to sink every dollar they have in the speculative swindle du jour, for example, you’ll quickly recognize the obvious signs of a bubble in the offing, walk away, and keep your shirt while everyone else is losing theirs.

Me: I had that experience with real estate.  The news on the radio in June 2005 trumpeted record home sales and prices.  I took it as a sign of the market top I'd been looking for since 2001 and immediately drove to the nearest real estate office to my home in the Irish Hills of Michigan and listed my house for sale.  The house sold in April 2006 and closed in May 2006, just as the bottom was about to fall out.

That was not only good for me, but good for the deer.  That winter, the deer ate my shrubs up to the seven foot level. Good thing they were eight feet tall at the time. I vowed that if I were still in my house the next firearms deer season, I'd finally break down and buy a rifle and a deer hunting license.  I never got the chance.  Lucky deer.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for the past three years should recognize that I put together two stories about selling my house that I usually tell separately, but managed to weave together for the first time in Math and the market.  Even that version gives the deer half of the story short shrift.

Back to the conversation about real estate.
Greer: Pinku-sensei, I did the same thing with real estate, the other way around. My wife and I stayed completely out of the real estate market until 2009, when prices had crashed good and proper but credit could still be had, and snapped up our current house for an absurdly small sum. Having a clue really does help!

Me: "Having a clue really does help!"  Yes, it does.  Now to see about buying property as it struggles off the bottom.

Greer: Pinku-sensei, in your place -- unless relocating to the Rust Belt is part of your plan -- I'd build up a sum of ready money, and wait for the fracking bubble to pop. My guess is that there'll be panic selling of quite a range of assets at that point, and you'll do quite well.

Me: I relocated to the Rust Belt from California 25 years ago.  Right now I'm only 4 miles north of Detroit.  I find getting an up-close-and-personal view of a city undergoing collapse perversely invigorating.  As I say, welcome to Detroit, Ground Zero of the Post-Industrial Future.  The solutions to North America's problems will be developed here first and then exported to the rest of the continent.  That means the locals have a responsibility to promote the good solutions and squash the bad ones.  May they be able to tell the difference.
Yes, I threw in a bunch of my favorite lines about Detroit.  How could I resist?
Greer: Pinku-sensei, somehow I managed to forget where you were located. That being the case -- well, depending on where you want to invest, vast tracts of real estate can be yours any time you want!
I hope he's right.  In the meantime, since it's entertainment-themed Sunday, I can indulge in the first thing that came to mind when I read "vast tracts of real estate."  Take it away, Monty Python!


I'll get back to the rest of the conversation, as well as at least one other entry about Apophis Day later.  It's a beautiful day, and I need to get out and cultivate my garden.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Yuri's Night 2014!



World Space Party - Detroit 2014 and i3 Detroit in Ferndale

I almost forgot tonight was Yuri's Night.  Shame on me if I had forgotten it.  After all, I posted about it last year and the year before.  To celebrate tonight, here's Chris Hadfield and the Canadian Space Agency: 2013 Spirit of Yuri's Night Acceptance Speech.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and the Canadian Space Agency were named the recipients of the 2013 Spirit of Yuri's Night Award. This video is Chris' acceptance speech for the award!
For more, read Celebrate the Birth of Human Spaceflight, with Yuri's Night!